Yet it is a substantially bigger economy than either of these, and World Bank projections suggest it should rise from the 17th biggest economy in the world in 2012 to the 14th in 2050. Its borders with Europe, Syria and Iran are another reason it is strategically important that a stable government and economy are in place.
The activity in Turkey came as Federal Reserve officials gathered in Washington, where they are expected to cut another $10 billion from the Fed's monthly bond buying program Wednesday.
The Fed started tapering the original $85 billion program at its December meeting. The Fed's tapering program has been seen as a drag on emerging markets, following years of extra funds flowing around global markets.
(Read more: Fed taper will remain slow and steady: CNBC survey)
Analysts said the decision by Turkey's central bank was significant since it had come across as reluctant to take action.
"It's only fitting that Turkey's central bank, which has stubbornly refused to mount a proper interest rate defense of the lira, decided to hike rates in an extremely aggressive manner in the dark of night," said Nicholas Spiro, managing director at Spiro Sovereign Strategy in a note.
"The decision to raise all three main policy rates by between 425 and 550 basis points is the most significant shift in monetary policy in a vulnerable emerging market since the U.S. Federal Reserve let the "tapering" genie out of the bottle last May," he added.
Central banks in some emerging markets have started to take action to defend their markets. India, hit hard last year when Fed tapering fears first surfaced, on Tuesday delivered a surprise interest rate hike to fight inflation.
—Reporting by Catherine Boyle and Dhara Ranasinghe